Publish Date: 07/28/2022
Environmental enrichment provides an opportunity to improve the living conditions of farm animals. Current farming systems offer little stimulation, other than food and water and animals are often closely confined in groups (with relatively little space per animal). Such environments may be inadequate to fulfil all the needs of an animal, or an animal may be unable to cope effectively. Enrichment can be used to encourage more of the natural behaviors of animals, thereby enhancing their welfare.
Publish Date: 06/16/2022
What is biosecurity? Biosecurity can be subdivided into 3 parts: 1) bio-exclusion involves keeping pathogens out of a herd, 2) bio-management involves managing pathogens already in a herd to minimize the negative consequences, and 3) bio-containment involves preventing pathogens from escaping a herd and putting other farms at risk. Bio-exclusion will be the focus of this factsheet. Improving bio-exclusion requires taking time to identify the most significant vulnerabilities on farms to determine what should be done next. It starts with identifying vulnerabilities that can result in pathogens being introduced into a herd (step 1) and then prioritizing bio-exclusion control measures to address them (step 2). Historically, relatively little time has been spent on the first step resulting in slow progress in improving biosecurity.
Publish Date: 06/13/2022
Swine dysentery (SD or bloody scours), once one of the most expensive swine diseases, largely disappeared in North America in the 1990’s with three site production and improved hygiene, among other changes in swine industry structure. However, since the early 2000s, SD has re-emerged in swine operations in portions of the U.S. and several Canadian provinces. SD is an intestinal bacterial disease that is very expensive to treat and control medically. It is very difficult to completely eliminate once pigs and facilities are contaminated. SD can be spread by infected swine, rodents and other animals in contact with infected swine as well as any fecal material on equipment or clothing. Biosecurity practices are effective at reducing the exposure risks and, when properly implemented, will prevent or slow the spread of this disease (and other diseases) between farms. Your swine veterinarian can assist you in creating a biosecurity plan to prevent introduction to your herd as well as accurate diagnosis should clinical signs of SD be suspected. For more information on how to recognize SD, see the Pork Information Gateway’s Factsheet, “ Swine Dysentery (Bloody Scours); Recognition and Awareness, Diagnosis, Transmission and Clinical Signs”.
Publish Date: 06/13/2022
Swine dysentery (SD or bloody scours), once one of the most expensive swine diseases, largely disappeared in North America in the 1990’s with three site production and improved hygiene, among other changes in swine industry structure. However, since the early 2000s, SD has re-emerged in swine operations in portions of the U.S. and several Canadian provinces. SD is an intestinal bacterial disease that is very expensive to treat and control medically. It is very difficult to completely eliminate once pigs and facilities are contaminated. SD can be spread by infected swine, rodents and other animals in contact with infected swine as well as any fecal material on equipment or clothing. Biosecurity practices are effective at reducing the exposure risks and, when properly implemented, will prevent or slow the spread of this disease (and other diseases) between farms. Please see the Pork Information Gateway Factsheet, “Steps for Treatment, Control and Elimination of Swine Dysentery” for more information.
Publish Date: 06/17/2022
One of the primary goals on farms is to maximize pig survivability throughout every life stage. This is attained not only by having farm staff competent in animal care, but also by creating a culture that values and cares for people. Excellent care acknowledges the importance of words, behavior, values, and feelings amongst farm caregivers, and thus, incorporates these components in both the content and methodology when training. Studies reinforce that the best way to effectively train staff includes demonstration, mentorship, and verification.
Publish Date: 05/02/2022
Mortality reduces gross income but also changes the cost of pig production. Accurately projecting the impact of mortality on net income is important to determine if the marginal income of lower mortality is greater than the marginal cost of improving mortality. This fact sheet focuses on the potential economic benefit of improving mortality which builds on previous work (Crooks et al., 1993; Holtkamp, 2008; Dhuyvetter, 2014). This calculation is not a trivial task because the economic value of lowering mortalities depends on various prices and production efficiencies.
Publish Date: 05/05/2022
Glässer’s disease is an important cause of post-weaning morbidity and mortality in swine populations worldwide. The disease was first described in 1910, but the etiological agent was not isolated until 1922. It is a gram-negative bacterium Glaesserella parasuis (G. parasuis), formerly known as Haemophilus parasuis, that belongs to the Pasteurellaceae family (Dickerman et al., 2019). G. parasuis is part of the normal microbiota of pigs and is an early colonizer of piglets. The bacterium can be detected in the trachea, nasal passages or tonsils of piglets as early as two days after birth. Pigs can be colonized by both virulent and non-virulent strains. Although it is normally found in the upper respiratory tract (URT) of pigs, upon disruption of pig’s immune system, it causes Glässer’s disease. The disease is normally observed in 4 through 8-week-old pigs (nursery pigs) but it can sporadically occur in older pigs (Aragon et al., 2019). Weaned piglets are more susceptible because of waning maternal antibodies. Proper diagnosis and typing of isolates is crucial to understand the molecular epidemiology of strains involved and to design better herd-specific autogenous vaccines to control the disease. Knowledge of the circulating strains within or between farms is crucial. Traditionally, serotyping has been the most common typing method, with 15 known serotypes (Kielstein and Rapp-Gabrielson, 1992).
Publish Date: 11/18/2021
A “compromised animal” has been broadly defined as an animal which is unable to function optimally. Deficiencies in an animal’s well-being may result from changes in their physical, environmental, nutritional, behavioral, or social needs that are not adequately met and these effects may range from a medically treatable condition to one from which recovery is not likely which might require humane euthanasia (1). Early and systematic observation by the stockperson or caretaker will help identify the sick or compromised pig and encourage a timely and appropriate response by following the farm’s treatment protocols and consulting with a veterinarian.
Publish Date: 10/15/2020
There is no best way to dispose of swine mortality carcasses. While some methods may work well for managing routine mortalities, the ability to scale them up to handle large numbers can be difficult. These methods may not adapt to times when catastrophic mortalities occur. The optimum system for any particular farm location is based on a number of criteria, including the current state of the protein/oil market, the biosecurity required, the distance to processing sites, the local public's perception, the government regulations that apply to that location, the environmental conditions, and the ability of the farm to carry out the different procedures. The death losses at a farm can be classified broadly as one of two types, routine or catastrophic. Routine mortalities represent a small proportion of herd and occur throughout the course of normal production. Catastrophic mortality events involve high death losses within a distinct period of time. These methods can also be used for catastrophic loses but the larger scale in a shorter time frame often increases process intensity. Additionally if losses are due to disease, they have a higher biosecurity risk.
Publish Date: 09/01/2020
The transition in the swine industry to confinement production, where extensive mechanical systems are used automate many routine processes, has created new management needs and challenges. These mechanical systems wear and are prone to failures; therefore, they must be maintained to keep the facility functioning correctly. The cost of the repairs and maintenance can vary widely based on the maintenance program followed and the original equipment installed. Iowa State Extension estimates that the cost of repairs and maintenance annually is 1.5% of the barns original cost, although the type of maintenance program is unknown (Christensen, 2019). To minimize the cost and maximize the barn’s efficiency and lifespan, a maintenance programs must be created and implemented. The different electromechanical systems in a barn (ventilation, feed, water, etc.) all have components that could lead to system failure, thereby having a negative impact on production and pig welfare. For example it has been noted that a feed outage lasting 24 hours can cost at least $1.00 per head in finishing situation (Hollis, 2006). This could be caused by an equipment failure in the feed system and the costs would likely increase rapidly if compounded with multiple equipment failures.